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Author Topic: EP578: Cherry Squid  (Read 591 times)
eytanz
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« on: June 09, 2017, 02:51:30 AM »

EP578: Cherry Squid

AUTHOR: Celeste Hollister
NARRATOR: Amy H. Sturgis
HOST: Mur Lafferty

---

It was the cherry squid that did him in.

Outside his window, seventy stories up, the advertisement bloomed, melon yellow, racecar red. A shoal of squid rippled across the holo, a tangram pattern that morphed into a human face. Almost human, but with a Vrellan’s ruby eyes. Then a blush of shimmer-pink as the slogan scrolled onscreen: “Let’s All Share a Cherry Squid” in all caps like a scream.

Fresh cherry scent wafted on the air. Then the ad faded to black before replaying, an endless loop of fragrance and light.

“A stupid, looping nonsense,” Adam called it.

The Mobius-strip of cherry squid peeled out from its backlit blue. I said, “I think it’s pretty.”

“They try too hard to be like us,” Adam said.

I edged onto the oval of his windowsill and watched the sun plait silver into the spillways. I said, “They are like us. The scientists say we share a common ancestor. We just evolved differently.”

Adam crooked a three-pod stool against his vid-wall. He popped open a can of Dr Pepper, one from his dwindling cache of Earthly goods. He said, “You don’t believe that crap, do you? The whole Selkie Evolution thing?”

The Vrellan face floated into view, its mouth wide as it chased the squid across the screen.

“How can you not?” I asked. “His face is like ours. The eyes are the same shape. Even his teeth–”

“–One,” he said. “You don’t even know if he’s a He. And two. They don’t have bones, Barbara. It’s all cartilage. Like a cuttlefish.”


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
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acpracht
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« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2017, 12:19:21 AM »

I might just point people to the episode post here: http://escapepod.org/2017/06/01/ep578-cherry-squid/
where some folks made some insightful comments (scroll down to the bottom).

-Adam
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coldequation
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« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2017, 12:44:56 AM »

You know, usually this sort of story gives friendly aliens an ulterior motive, usually sinister, and they almost never treat the humans as equals, let alone friends or neighbors.

Listening to this story reminded me of a cousin I have.  She and her husband are diplomats, and as such get assigned to places that are very different from the home they knew in Ohio.  They're wrapping up a tour in Bangkok right now, and listening to the descriptions of the Vrellen cityscape and culture reminded me of the pictures they post on social media.  At once familiar, and yet alien, it's a big change in perspective.

These sorts of stories, the ones about people, and how changing environments change them, are my favorite kind.  Despite the trappings and setting, the story of Barb and Adam plays out somewhere on Earth every day.
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Tango Alpha Delta
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« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2017, 08:39:48 AM »

Wow - this one took me back to the three years I was living in the UK. (1998-2001)

I was a miserable SOB, for a lot of reasons. Mainly, I was unhappy because I was a junior enlisted USAF person who couldn't afford to do anything, but that unhappiness spilled out over everything else. Throw in a little post-partum depression shared with my wife, and the misery just snowballed.

By the end of my tour, I didn't like anything about England. "Why is there a 'prawn flavour' for everything? Why must everyone make the same lame jokes about the way I talk? Why can't local businesses be open when I need to buy something?"

Listening to this story gave me a very weird sensation of seeing both sides at the same time. In my gut, I could feel exactly what Adam was feeling. I could sympathize with what he was going through, and relate to the pain - at the same time, Barbara embodied the sense of wonder for an alien culture that I like to think I would have in her situation. Barbara is who I wanted to be when I went abroad.

As with most alien stories, this wasn't really about the aliens as much as it was about us and the ways we don't connect with each other. But that said, I found that conflict between Adam and Barbara to be very compelling, and I thought this struck a nice balance between showing us a unique, separately evolved alien species and holding back just enough detail to foster a sense of curiosity and wonder about them.

Well done, Celeste!

And, as always, Dr. Amy's performance fit this story beautifully. I'm always happy to see her name in the narrator credit! Smiley 
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Katzentatzen
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« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2017, 04:43:53 PM »

I love that the setting is so fantastical but the human drama was so mundane that it's likely all of us have experienced something like it.
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« Reply #5 on: July 05, 2017, 12:27:46 PM »

The world of this story was so lush-I'd read a whole book about the vrellans! I like the fact that the mc finds her home, even though she looses what she thought was her goal. It felt like a happy ending, even though the story was so much more than just "happy", which made it a charm to listen to!
The world was so engaging that I dreamed about it the next night!
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Ichneumon
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« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2017, 06:03:38 PM »

One detail I didn't get: the ubiquitous advertisements. Why would a culture without personal wealth or ownership would have marketing? The relationships in the story felt realistic and multidimensional.
This story reminded me strongly of when I was in Asia, maybe because there were similar sights or maybe because that is the place I've felt the greatest cultural difference. I can see humans adapting pretty well to the Vrellans' planet, but I don't know if it will be good for the Vrellans in the long run!
« Last Edit: July 10, 2017, 06:08:27 PM by Ichneumon » Logged
acpracht
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« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2017, 05:29:45 PM »

One detail I didn't get: the ubiquitous advertisements. Why would a culture without personal wealth or ownership would have marketing? The relationships in the story felt realistic and multidimensional.
This story reminded me strongly of when I was in Asia, maybe because there were similar sights or maybe because that is the place I've felt the greatest cultural difference. I can see humans adapting pretty well to the Vrellans' planet, but I don't know if it will be good for the Vrellans in the long run!

I think the advertisements have nothing to do with personal wealth or ownership. To the contrary, it is completely based in 1) their curiosity and 2) their desire to share completely with their human friends.

That is, they are curious about the humans and want to know and share with them so completely that they are wanting to explore even the foreign concept of advertising.

Even in this, we see that they are not entirely successful in understanding the concept and purpose of marketing: ("Let us all share a cherry squid.")

-Adam
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Varsha
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« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2017, 11:17:24 AM »

I don't get that guy, it may smell bad, aliens might be weird, but... Its Aliens!
This might be one shortcoming of this story, not explaining his reasons enough.
Also what would drive these alien's evolution if they have no challenges to overcome?

Narration was excellent.
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Ichneumon
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« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2017, 08:12:39 PM »


Even in this, we see that they are not entirely successful in understanding the concept and purpose of marketing: ("Let us all share a cherry squid.")


Adam, I guess that makes sense. But about them not understanding the concept of advertising: I feel like I have seen that advert before, just replace cherry squid with Coca-Cola.

Varsha, that is an interesting question. I don't think such a cooperative species could evolve if they had our system of reproduction. Maybe there is much less genetic variation between individuals, like with ants or bees. Perhaps their challenges come from the environment rather than from eachother. Also evolution can still take place without natural selection, through mutation and gene flow. Those processes are basically random and will not lead to adaptation on their own, but its still evolution.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2017, 10:48:49 AM by Fenrix » Logged
Fenrix
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« Reply #10 on: September 20, 2017, 10:57:06 AM »

I think the shampoo "advertisement" shows an even greater disconnect. Also, the advertisements may be an attempt to make the humans feel more comfortable, as this is a part of their culture.

I appreciate Tad's comments, as it gave me a little more empathy for Adam. The story didn't allow me to connect with him enough. There was none of the good, only the toxic, and that reduced his impact.

Also the bits with the language were excellently performed. We may have to find something for Dr. Amy to read for PseudoPod. 
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RepHenryClay
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« Reply #11 on: October 15, 2017, 07:48:44 AM »

I'm working through the back catalog and this episode resonated with me.  My own impression is that the author is trying to show that the macho selfishness of humanity must be left behind if we want happiness and advancement similar to the utopian world of the Vrellan's.  I think Adam represents the social maladjustment that can be caused by stereotypical masculinity.  His name in particular makes me think that the author is hinting that the Vrellan's world is a new Eden and there is no place for Adam on it.  Eve/Barbara commits no sin and she and Mercy basically walk happily into the sunset.
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